2300 AD is a science-fiction role-playing game first published by Game Designers Workshop (GDW) in 1986 as Traveller: 2300. The game in fact had nothing to do with GDW's popular Traveller RPG, and when the system was revised in 1988 it was also re-branded as 2300 AD.The setting is an extension of the background of GDW's Twilight 2000 game, effectively showing what happened during the next 300 years. Mankind has started to spread into space, and faces its first major competition in the form of the Kafer.2300 AD was intended to be more "hard science-fiction" than GDW's Traveller. Apart from FTL travel the typical trappings of Space Opera are mostly absent, and the game boasted a "Near Star Map" based on real stellar catalogues.A d20 version called 2320 AD was released in late 2007 as a campaign setting for the T20 system.Moongoose Publishing, a current producer of Traveller material, has also produced a set of sourcebooks that use the Mongoose version of Traveller as their core ruleset. Most of their material is revisions of the original game line.
This game provides examples of the following tropes:
2-D Space: Both averted and played straight. The map of human space is thoroughly (and sometimes confusingly) three-dimensional, but starship combat uses a flat map.
During our Bronze Age, the Eber were a spacefaring civilization possibly more advanced than humanity is currently, with stutterwarp ships and three colony worlds. Then they had a nuclear war. The only survivors just barely re-invented the steam engine.
Aliens Are Bastards: Averted. The aliens have very good reasons for acting as they do, even when they act like brutal psychopaths.
Alternate History: Since we didn't in fact have a nuclear war in the late '90s, 2300 AD is an alternate history.
Artificial Gravity: Averted. Human-built ships have spinning sections to simulate gravity, and no known species has anything different.
Asteroid Miners: The Nyotekundu sourcebook/adventure is all about asteroid miners. Well, gas giant ring miners.
Asteroid Thicket: Nyotekundu features one in the cover art, although it's actually a gas giant ring. In theactual supplement the ring is described more realistically - you might see as many as three chunks of ice close enough to be more than a shiny dot.
Back Story: The history between Twilight 2000 and 2300 AD was created by the designers by playing what they called "The Game" - a socio-political miltary simulation where each of the players took three or more nations and ran them at 5 or 10 year turns from 2000 to 2300.
Balkanize Me: China broke up into three parts after the Twilight War and hasn't reunified. Texas is an independent nation (and has colonies on other planets). Germany wasn't re-unified until 2292 (about 300 years after it happened in the real world).
Blue and Orange Morality: The Sung unshakably believe that all cultures have an absolute moral duty to uplift any socially or technologically less advanced people they come across, and that said less advanced cultures have an absolute moral duty to serve their superiors until the uplift process is complete. While they are absolutely sincere about this, the first alien sentients they encountered were primitives who were downright repulsed by both Sung culture and technology and had no interest in serving them. The Sung could not accept this and enslaved the Xiang in a desperate attempt to "help" them. After the Slaver War, the Sung view themselves as the natural servants of humanity until humanity uplifts them, and are bewildered and annoyed that humans don't particularly want to teach them the secrets of more advanced technology...
Casual Interstellar Travel: Partially averted. Humanity is still getting used to traveling among the stars, and starships are almost always owned by governments, corporations, or scientific foundations.
Cool Airship: Blimps and zepplins have made a comeback, being used for cargo and passenger transport.
Cool Starship: The American Kennedy class cruisers are the fastest ships in space and well-armed to boot. The French Suffren class cruiser that plays a central role in Mission: Arcturus might qualify as well.
Cyberpunk: The Earth/Cybertech sourcebook introduced this into the setting, somewhat jarringly.
The Slaver War - humanity's first space war against an alien race. The Sung had solar sails and ion drives. Manchuria and Canada had stutterwarp ships. The Sung capitulated rather quickly.
The War of German Reunification - France, already exhausted by the Central Asian War (2282 to 2287) got curb stomped by the Germans, with France itself nearly invaded, and were forced to allow German reunification (until then France was pretty much the undisputed world leader).
Death World: Several of humanity's colony worlds are quite dangerous, and most of the outposts are on worlds without breathable atmospheres.
Deflector Shields: Some starships have magnetic fields holding ablative particles in suspension that work like these, to protect against incoming lasers or particle weapons.
Earth That Was: a variant in one of the many little alien secrets known only to the GM: the Ebers' mysterious "lost colony" is actually their original (nuked) homeworld.
The Empire: France inaugurated the Third French Empire in 2298 (just 2 years before the setting), but France has really been the major power on Earth since the Twilight War. They're not necessarily evil, however.
Humans are viewed as boogeymen by the Kafer, while humans see Kafers essentially as space orcs.
The Slaver War fought between Manchuria and Canada and the Sung was caused because the Sung believed they had a moral duty to enslave the more primative Xiang.
Faster-Than-Light Travel: The Stutterwarp drive "jumps" the ship instantly a few hundred meters, and does it hundreds of thousands of times per second to reach faster-than-light speeds. It also has a built-in range limitation. Ships must discharge their drives in a gravity well every 7.7 light years or the drive starts producing large amounts of lethal radiation.
First Contact: This has already happened a few times, and there was even a war fought (and won) against the Sung, but most of the races humans have met to this point are more primitive than they are. Some of the published adventures involve first contacts as well.
Forces with Firepower: each nation have its military in 2300 AD described in both canon and fanon with great detail. Some of them may or may not include:
Gauls with Grenades: France is the leading human nation in 2300 AD and its rarely if ever the cheese-eating surrender monkeys.
Global Currency: Averted. The French Livre is the unit used in the books, but each nation still has its own currency.
Heavyworlder: The colonists on King have been genetically modified to survive in the heavy gravity there, and need rebreathers to survive in more earthlike (thinner) atmospheres. They are also short and immensely strong.
Hostile Weather: Present on many human colonies, and a theme in the adventure Energy Curve.
Hufflepuff House: The French Arm was the main focus of the published materials and was the center of the Kafer War meta-plot. The Chinese Arm has three alien races in it, one of which is featured and further detailed in Ranger. The American Arm, on the other hand, has one interesting high gravity planet and...not much else. It's just a dead end nobody else wants. Until the adventure in Challenge magazine where a brown dwarf gives humanity a back door into Kafer space.
Humans Are Special: Other than the Kafer, humans appear to be one of the first races to make it into space and develop the Stutterwarp drive in our part of space. Most of the other alien races encountered in the printed adventures are more primitive.
Innocent Aliens: The Xiang and the Klaxun are both stone-age primatives and relatively peaceful. The Xiang were enslaved by the Sung until the humans fought a war on their behalf and the Klaxun world is being scouted by the Kafer when humans first meet them. In an adventure in Challenge magazine where a "race" called Ylii (technically several related races and species forming a society together) that have made themselves almost incapable of aggression after having nearly whiped themselves out in a genocidal war. Needless to say they were badly victimized when they came into contact with the Kafers. Paradoxically they have avoided complete extinction so far only because the violence-loving-and-needing-violence-to-be-smart Kafers A: find it literally mind-numbingly boring to kill them causing breakdown in discipline. B: Find no urgency in killing or subjecting them. Their lack of aggression makes it very difficult to take them and their alleged intelligence seriously. To a Kafer, aggression and intelligence are very strongly
ISO Standard Human Spaceship: Most human ships are indeed blocky, gray, utilitarian vessels, often with large spinning sections for gravity. In a possible subversion, Kafer ships are generally like this too.
Mexico Called; They Want Texas Back: During the Twilight War Mexico invaded the southern states and captured Arizona, New Mexico, and southern California (including LA). In 2300 they are still part of Mexico. Texas was conquered by Mexico too but successfully rebelled in 2099, becoming independent. Mexico also annexed all of the central American nations north of Panama during the 22nd century.
Military Science-Fiction: A strong influence on the game, with several of the printed adventures centering around the Kafer War and putting the players in the roles of mercenaries or soldiers.
No Biochemical Barriers: Averted. Carnivorous life on Aurore finds Earth life to be dangerously poisonous, and vice versa. Unfortunately it usually finds out that humans are deadly only after it has taken a large bite out of one.
No Warping Zone: The stutterwarp's efficiency drops off greatly in a gravity well, meaning stutterwarp ships are still going really fast within a solar system, but no longer exceed the speed of light. They can just barely maintain orbit around a world.
One World Order: Strongly averted. Earth still has about as many nations as it does today, and several worlds have the colonies of more than one nation on them. The Sung have multiple nation-states as well.
Organic Technology: The Pentapods are big on Organic Technology, since their species evolved underwater and never had the option of using metal or fire in their industrial development.
Proud Warrior Race Guy: The Kafer only really feel alive when they are in combat, and it actually makes them smarter. Their whole society is constructed around giving their citizens regular adrenaline jolts.
Psychic Powers: Humans don't have them (apparently), but some of the aliens in the adventures do.
Split Personality: The Ebers have a "compartmentalized" mind, which effectively gives them all split personalities.
Starfish Aliens: All of the aliens in the setting are designed to be these.
Stealth in Space: You can't hide a ship in space, but a major tactic in the space combat system is keeping your ships unidentified in order to confuse your opponent. Once they light up their sensors or get too close the jig is up.
Subspace Ansible: Averted. There is no means of communication faster than a stutterwarp ship.
Terraform: Several human colony worlds are being terraformed to something a little more earthlike. It's going to take a long time.
Un-Canceled: The 2320 version and the Mongoose publishing version.
United Europe: Strongly averted. Europe's nations still can't get along with each other, although they have more or less cooperated in colonizing the French Arm.
United Space of America: Averted. Earth and its colonies are still divided between nations. The major arms of exploration are the French Arm (France, Britain, Germany, and other European nations), the Chinese Arm (Manchuria, Canada, Brazil and other South American nations), and the American Arm (America and Australia).
Unobtainium: The stutterwarp drive makes use of Tantalum, and wars have been fought over Tantalum deposits.
White Man's Burden: The Sung believe that advanced civilizations have a moral duty to dominate lesser civilizations and then educate them up to their level... and that the lesser civilizations have a corresponding moral duty to serve their educators. It wasn't their fault that the Xiang didn't want the advanced education and technology they were offering in exchange for their enslavement.
And they don't understand why the humans are so reluctant, now that they have submited to human authority, to share the secret of stutterwarp.